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CULLEN OLIFF

Analysis vs. Efficiency: An Examination of a Technical Writer’s Role in Professional Documentation¬† (Portfolio)
Cullen Oliff, Fall 2017

Director: Jennifer Maher
Committee Member: Jody Shipka

This portfolio explores a fundamental problem that faces the technical writer: the struggle to balance the dynamics of rhetoric with the instrumental beliefs of stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs). Using Activity Theory as my theoretical framework, I analyze each document from the positionality of both technical writer and SME. I illustrate how rhetorically trained technical writers and SMEs who do technical writing often work under a different set of rules and expectations. In illustrating competing composing processes and choices, I highlight how a technical writer can still work in rhetorically complex ways even in a document that must appear purely instrumental.